The Machismo of Easy
In the American pop canon, the term “easy” is most associated with three songs: “Easy” by the Commodores, “Take It Easy” by the Eagles and “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins. Lesser known are “Make It Easy” by the Moondoggies and “If I Wanted Someone” by Dawes. But all these songs have something in common, besides prominent use of the word “easy”: machismo, bordering on misogyny–save for one.
In “Take It Easy,” Glenn Frey is running down the road, trying to loosen his load. He’s got seven women on his mind, four of whom want to own him and all of whom (presumably) want to bone him. Clearly, any man who has seven women on his mind is either a serial philanderer or a sex addict, so it can reasonably be concluded that by “loosen my load,” Frey means he’s masturbating with one hand while steering his car–probably a Trans-Am–with the other. Later, Frey is standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, when a girl (my lord) in a flatbed Ford slows down to take a look at him. From this ludicrously narcissistic lyric, we’re able to ascertain that perhaps Frey isn’t “loosening his load” while thinking about the seven women; perhaps he’s loosening his load to the vision of himself. Either way, not exactly a feminist, that Frey.
The Commodores’ “Easy” finds Lionel Richie about to leave his lover. “Why in the world would anybody put chains on me?” he wonders aloud, expressing a desire to “be free to know the things I do are right.” In other words, he doesn’t want a strong woman’s input; he wants to be surrounded by yes men and women. And how tough will it be for him to get over the lady he’s about to abandon? Easy like Sunday morning.
The Moondoggies’ gorgeous “Make It Easy” is far more cryptic. The chorus’ main line–“Don’t make it right, make it easy”–seems to give a woman permission to be herself. But later, the band speaks of its male protagonist’s depression, and his expectation that the female “come ’round” and “pick me up off the ground,” as if she’d drop everything to make “making it easy” for her wayward love her top priority.
Like “Make It Easy” is for the Moondoggies, Dawes’ “If I Wanted Someone” is arguably the band’s best track, musically speaking. Unlike its kindred tunes, it doesn’t have “easy” in its title, but rather as the last line of each chorus–“I need you to make the days move easy,” lead singer Taylor Goldsmith tells his woman. For whatever reason, the song is reminiscent of the final scene of Bull Durham, where Kevin Costner tells Susan Sarandon that he just wants to be. Just sit here on the porch swing with me, woman, for as long as it takes, while I nurse a longneck and put off anything resembling a hard decision. If you’ve got shit to do yourself, well, it’s gonna have to wait.
Stunningly, it’s Collins’ “Easy Lover” that stands out among its peers as a paean to female empowerment. The title is deceptive. If by “Easy Lover,” you’re anticipating a song about a woman who gives it up easy, whoa, are you fuckin’ wrong. Before you know it you’ll be on your knees, croons Phil (backed by another Phil: Bailey)–not the other way around. “Don’t try to change her,” he continues, before issuing a sterner warning: “You’d better forget it. You’ll never get it. She will play around and leave you; leave you and deceive you.”
But Phil being Phil, he squandered every ounce of this feminine goodwill by unleashing “Sussudio” on the world.